I attended the "Our Bodies, Our Blogs" session today. I have to admit that I went into this session -- along with Jennette and Shauna -- wondering if I would be walking into a fight. I felt I had to represent as someone who diets but who doesn't necessarily hate herself. I didn't feel like that happened, but I did feel as if the session felt a little scattered. I think it would have been better to have broken this session into two or three separate groups. There was obviously a large contingent who was interested in weight-blogging, and an equally big group who thought this was a silly topic to talk about.
I did pull a few interesting points from the conversation. I found it sad to hear people admit they referred to themselves as "lard-ass," but the "self-love" stuff doesn't necessarily ring true for me. To me, the "love yourself" stuff feels superficial and maybe a little patronizing. I love myself sometimes, sometimes not so much. To some extent, I agreed Laurie Toby Edison's comment that, essentially, loving ourselves is nice but it isn't as important as making change in the world. There were two clashing layers in the conversation -- the personal and the societal.
But most blogging does end up being more about personal issues. Many of us as bloggers, and I will definitely include myself in this, are pretty self-centered. We are doing our blogs not so much to change the world, but to change ourselves and our own minds. A lot of blogging and blog-reading and commenting could be distilled down to, "I thought this/did this. Am I okay?" Yvonne Marie said that one big turning point for her was posting pictures of her stretch marks on her blogs, and getting emails and pictures from other women with stretch marks. Another woman said she looked on Flickr to see if she could find pictures of women in the same stage of their pregnancy as she was, just to see if her body was "normal." Shauna said that she started out her diet blog being very hard on herself in her blog, but as she went forward with it and got feedback, she started feeling differently about herself and her goals.
That's why many bloggers will probably continue to focus on our own issues in addition to, or even instead of, changing the world. We aren't patient enough to wait for the whole world to change. We want to feel better now too. That's why there were so many questions about how to feel less like a fraud, about whether it was more important to spend time with your kids and their friends than to go to the gym, whether it's ever okay to post a "shame slam."
Probably the first step is to stop asking "am I okay?" No one can answer that question for you. And no one is ever going to get consistent validation that they are okay. I originally got involved in this conversation feeling a need to "stand up for myself" as a diet blogger and make the point that it was unfair to characterize diet bloggers as necessarily shallow and self-loathing. This discussion made me realize how futile and stupid that was. I did make a comment along those lines, but it fell flat, partly because mid-thought, I realized that I probably seemed even more shallow for trying to make that point.
The truth is that we have no control over how other people think of us or what they say to us. It requires a sort of bratty entitlement to expect that no one should ever going to say, think, or do anything to upset us. So, even though a "No Fat Chicks" t-shirt is upsetting or annoying, for example, a "No Fat Chicks" employment or media policy is a much more serious issue.
Speaking of bratty entitlement, I have caught myself complaining once or twice about something -- the long lines for the bathrooms, for example -- and then realized that I have to realize how amazing it is to be able to be here and rubbing elbows with all these fabulous women bloggers, with free drinks and plenty of great programming.